Councils Stand in Unity with Ukraine
24 August 2022
On a very rainy morning at South Devon's Maize Maze, near Kingsbridge, South Hams' officials gathered in a field full of sunflowers, Ukraine's national flower, as a symbol of their support for Ukrainians near and far affected by the war.
While in West Devon at Strawberry Fields, Lifton, West Devon Borough Council Members and the Chief Executive gathered on a much brighter day to show their support.
South Hams District Council's Leader, Cllr Judy Pearce, Kingsbridge's Ward Member, Cllr Denise O'Callaghan, Director of Strategy and Governance, Drew Powell, along with South Hams CVS' Community Engagement Office, Jane Bray attended in Kingsbridge.
In Lifton, West Devon Borough Council's Leader Neil Jory, Chief Executive Andy Bates, Mayor Caroline Mott and Cllr Chris Edmonds also attended to show their support of Ukraine as they celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday 24 August on the six-month anniversary of Russia's invasion.
Devon's eight District Councils and Devon County Council have been working together with their wider partners in response to the government's Homes for Ukraine programme. All local authorities have been helping facilitate host Devon families with individuals and families fleeing Ukraine, and working with local community groups as well as Town and Parish Councils to ensure that support is available for both hosts and guests.
Together with the support of organisations such as the CVS and the Citizens Advice, they are uniting across the county to show their support of Ukraine's Independence Day.
Devon councils have worked closely with host families to welcome guests who have opened their homes and properties since March 2022 as part of the scheme. Host families have undergone home visits and property checks to make sure they can provide suitable accommodation for their visitors. The councils thank them unreservedly for their kindness and hospitality for their warm welcome to guests to across the Devon area.
Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "It is a pleasure to show our support to Ukraine and the 155 Ukrainian people who are currently in our District. I would like to thank personally our incredibly kind hosts who have been so generous in every way.
"Our thoughts are with all Ukrainians at this difficult time for them. We hope those staying here will be able to celebrate, to make up for those in their homeland who are unable to. I personally remain in huge admiration of the determination and magnificent courage of the Ukrainian forces and any foreigners who have joined them to assist them in the resistance of the illegal invasion by Russian troops into a sovereign nation. We continue to do what we can with our partner organisations and councils across Devon to support our Ukrainian friends today and going forward. We are proud to fly the Ukraine flag in the South Hams on August 24 as we have been doing for many months."
Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council, said: "The Ukraine flag will be flying high at Kilworthy Park to honour our Ukrainian guests and those around the world on their Independence Day.
"We want to take this opportunity to say thank all of our Borough's hosts who have gone above and beyond to offer their homes and hearts to 139 Ukrainians who so desperately needed it when they came to West Devon. You really have been amazing. Finally without the partnership work we have with Team Devon, the CVS, Citizens Advice and countless others all pulling together we wouldn't achieve as much as we do as a united force."
Cllr Caroline Mott, Mayor of West Devon, said: "West Devon has always welcomed new members within our community and we hope that our new guests have felt welcomed and supported during this traumatic time. I hope everyone reflects on our individual independence on this special day."
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for communities, said: "Our thoughts and best wishes are with all Ukrainians today as we mark Ukraine Independence Day, and particularly for the many hundreds of individuals and families who are currently living in Devon.
"I am extremely proud that Devon has an important role in helping the country's residents at this time of great need and would like to once again recognise the huge kindness and generosity of the hundreds of hosts locally who are providing shelter and safety to our guests from Ukraine."
South Hams District Council in conjunction with South Hams Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) is making available Small Grants Funds of up to £500 to support voluntary sector organisations wishing to help people from Ukraine and their hosts where applicable.
Jane Bray, Community Engagement Officer (Wellbeing) said: "We want ideas that will support Ukrainian people to get to know the area and the community, learn English, and join local activities. They could include helping Ukrainian guests to navigate the healthcare system, find out about housing and/or benefits, get a job, understand our schooling. Or funding could pay for entry tickets, transport, toys and other equipment.
"We want to enable the community to welcome more widely its Ukrainian guests and support Host-Guest placements to remain successful. Maybe you would like to help set up and/or run a coffee morning or other drop in session for hosts and Ukrainian families. Elsewhere these have been followed up by cultural activity sessions open to all which have been very popular."
Team Devon are working together to provide safe 'Homes for Ukraine'
Ukrainian: Партнери Devon працюють разом, щоб забезпечити безпечні домівки для українців www.devon.gov.uk/supporting-ukraine
Russian: Партнеры Devon работают вместе, чтобы обеспечить безопасные дома для украинцев www.devon.gov.uk/supporting-ukraine
In South Hams and West Devon, the Councils have a dedicated Homes for Ukraine: Project Support team whose role is to support Ukrainian guests across both council areas. They oversee the needs of Ukrainians, and help them to access support wherever possible. To speak to the team please contact them on: firstname.lastname@example.org
The CVS welcome ideas to support wellbeing and application forms are available by emailing email@example.com South Hams CVS can also help with finding activity venues.